It was a little under a year ago, we posted a very general guide on how to dual boot Mac OS X together with Windows 7. While the guide is still useful, with the rapid new hardware and software came out recently the guide is become outdated. For the last few years there have been an ever growing interests in the OSx86 project, a lot have changed since we initially post the guide.
This guide will be a series of guides on How to Build a Successful Snow Leopard Hackintosh Dual Boot With Windows 7.
First we will focus on selecting the most compatible and stable hardware. Choosing the right hardware is a VERY important step if you want to have a fully working Snow Leopard on your PC. (*IMPORTANT* please note we strongly suggests you purchase the retailer version of Snow Leopard from Apple, any none official Snow Leopard image is not recommend and will not be discussed here)
Laptop and Netbook
Laptops and Netbook owners will experience higher difficulty in order to make your system run SL. Here is a good check list to read before any attempt to try to dual boot SL and Windows 7 on your laptop.
You can stop reading if you have a computer that runs AMD CPU. Apple has never supported AMD CPUs on their hardware and doesn’t look like they will in the near future.
As of all the netbooks it is important to note that Apple has stopped support for all Intel Atom CPUs as of 10.6.2. Those are all the 32 bit CPUs, that means netbook can only run up to 10.6.1 (the current version is 10.6.7 as of writing this post). And I personally I don’t recommend to try to dual boot your netbook knowing that your system is going to be permanently outdated.
This only leaves all the Intel Laptops, tonymacx86 and all their community users have come up a List of Successful Laptop Install Spreadsheet
It’s a Google Public Doc anyone can view, check out this spreadsheet first, see if your model is listed.
This list is constantly being updated, and you will only find some of the most recent and popular model being listed in here. If your computer is say over 2 or 3 years old it probably will not make it on the list. If that’s the case, go to this wiki osx86project to check all the hardware compatibility list of Portable Computers for each of the OS X version update.
If you see none, Google is always your friend.
You have more freedom with Desktop since we can always build a desktop from ground up. If you have an OEM desktop you are facing the same issue with all the Laptop users, which is the limited hardware choice your system have when it comes out with the manufacture.
This guide will rather focus more on selecting the right hardware for a desktop build from scratch by selecting the right motherboard and CPU and other hardware that are necessary for a working desktop.
CPU Chipset and Motherboard Selection
If you are building a new machine that specifically want to make it compatible with SL and Windows 7 dual boot you have two options.
One is go with the previous generation of the Intel Core i3/5/7 CPUs and chipsets (H55/P55/X58) and the other is buying the new Sandy Bridge chipset (P67/H67) along with the latest second generation of the Intel Core i3/5/7.
If your goal is to achieve a stable system right now, your best bet is looking into all the P55/H55/X58 chipset motherboards from Asus and Gigabyte. (of course older chipsets that supports Core 2 Duo/Quad P45/P41 still works)
If you want to have a faster performance go with the new Sandy Bridge family, Intel has already fixed their Sandy Bridge Chipset (B3 re-version with the fixed chipset) has already start to appear on the market. Also please choose between Asus and Gigabyte, and don’t buy any other brand motherboard, as this is very important when it comes to editing DSDT after installing the Snow Leopard. (DSDT stand for Differentiated System Description Table, in a nutshell you need to modify your DSDT in order for the OS to understand your hardware so it can work more efficiently)
Some notes on choosing H-series chipset vs P-series chipset:
The difference between the two are H series chipset comes with an integrated graphics (in the Sandy Bridge the GPU is within the CPU but with the H series it will enable the Intel HD 3000). Where as in P series you need a discrete dedicated GPU for all video out.
Please note that with Hackintosh there have been almost no success to use the integrated graphics from the motherboard, which means you are always need to have a dedicated GPU for your motherboard doesn’t matter if you have a H series or not. (latest news from the new MBP there seems have been discussion on enabling the Intel HD 3000 graphics with the new Sandy Bridge, but all this are still under development and highly depended on Apple’s future OS software update. So don’t put any hope on buying an integrated graphic motherboard and save money on not buying a discrete graphic card, chances are you most likely need to buy one any ways.)
Video Card Selection
Video Card support in Hackintosh SL is getting easier. Most cards from NVIDIA especially not the latest cards should all work in SL meaning if you have any of the 8xxx or 9xxx series and GTX 2xx will most likely all working fine.
For ATI 5770 is the most popular cards that works out of the box. ATI HD 5870 is another card that should work out of the box. Don’t get 48xx series cards, it usually have a hard time to get it working. Some encourage news recently after the 10.6.7 update is that it seems Apple has added more native support for 56xx 57xx 58xx and 68xx series for SL, go here to see a list of cards that are newly being added.
Memory/Hard Drive/SSD/DVD ROM
There aren’t many key issues you need to be aware of when selecting RAM. As long as you pick the ram that your motherboard supports, it should work fine in Snow Leopard. Note during the OS install phrase we will talk about in part II, in some case the MAX memory support is only limited to 4GB even though your motherboard can support more than that. At meantime, try to pick rams that are low on voltage, V1.5 is better than V1.7. Frequency doesn’t really matter, unless you are the type of hardware enthusiastic person.
For hard drive, please keep i
n mind Snow Leopard will not work on a partition larger than 1TB. Meaning if you buy a 2TB or 1.5TB hard drive it “might” not work properly. However that should not be an issue if you partition the hard drive down to 1TB.
Try to avoid Seagate Momentus Hybrid Drive or another Hybrid Drive in general. Users have reported issues on those hard drivers even installed on a real Mac hardware.
For SSD, Snow Leopard has yet to support TRIM natively (unlike Windows 7 it supports TRIM out of the box). That means you want to choose a SSD that have a hardware level garbage collection. Usually choose sandforce as the controller chip in a SSD is a good way to start.
There aren’t any restrictions on DVD ROM, usually DVD player that can detect by your BIOS should be sufficient. Please don’t buy any Blue-ray Player it might not work properly in Snow Leopard, as Apple has yet to adopt this technology and doesn’t look like they will any time soon.
That’s all for the first part of the guide on start building a fully working Snow Leopard Hackintosh along with Windows 7 dual boot. In the next series of this guide we will talk more about the software side on how to INSTALL two OS running side by side. Stay tuned !
Part II of How to Build a Successful Snow Leopard Hackintosh Dual Boot With Windows 7 is up read on here